Published 9:30 pm Monday, June 11, 2007
Voters smart to renew school taxes
Score two for Escambia County's future. Last week voters approved two school tax renewals and a statewide amendment that will allow Alabama to borrow more money for economic development projects - including the ThyssenKrupp steel mill to be located fewer than 100 miles away.
The importance of the vote on both issues cannot be understated. The two school taxes - a 1-mill countywide tax for all schools and a 3-mill district tax for county schools - are 80 years old, but that money is extremely important to the future of both school districts.
County schools were counting on those funds - about $800,000 - for teacher units that will allow them to diversify courses and for capital improvements. Brewton City Schools need the money to help pay for a new middle school in coming years.
Meanwhile, the amendment allows Alabama to borrow another $400 million for its capital improvement trust fund - $190 million of which will be used for steel mill incentives.
The fact that Tuesday's ballot paired education and economic development issues is no surprise. We can think of no more important issues for the future of our county, and they are inevitably tied together.
To continue to train our future workforce, we need to continue to strive for better educational opportunities for children. To attract new jobs, we need to increase Alabama's ability to offer incentives that will only pay us back in the long run.
Escambia County needs a strong workforce to attract those jobs, and we need the economic impact of new industry to help support schools.
In the long run, the small amount residents will continue to pay in taxes will pay huge dividends for schools, for industries and for our quality of life.
Kudos, voters. We're proud you stood up for education and economic development - and for the future.